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The Honorable John R. Dethmers
Class of: 1927

Source: Portrait from the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society website


John R. Dethmers served as a Michigan Supreme Court justice from 1946 through 1970.
John R. Dethmers was born in Plessis, Iowa, on October 5, 1903, and grew up in Orange City. He enrolled at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, then went on to the University of Michigan Law School and began to practice law in 1927. Dethmers was a member of various judicial associations and was a family man with three children.
Dethmers served on the Michigan Supreme Court for 25 years, including nine years as Chief Justice. He was 42 years old when Governor Harry Kelly appointed him to the Court in 1946. By then he had already accumulated 13 years of experience in government as City Attorney for Zeeland, Prosecutor for Ottawa County for four terms, Legal Advisor to the Governor, Chief Assistant Attorney General, and as Michigan's elected Attorney General. He mixed freely in Republican Party politics during this time, rising to his party's state chairmanship as an "anti-boss" candidate.
Dethmers, rugged individualist that he was, scorned staff help when he could do without it. He was proud that in his last 17 years on the Bench he worked without the assistance of even one law clerk, and with the thrift characteristic of his Dutch ancestry, he declined the privilege of driving a state-assigned car.
For a while in the 1950s, it appeared that he might win advancement to the United States Supreme Court. His admirers were disappointed when President Dwight Eisenhower chose Potter Stewart rather than Dethmers to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Justice Harold Burton. This choice was said to be the result of a speech Dethmers made when attending a meeting of the Chief Justices in Los Angeles. He made remarks in which he criticized judicial legislating because he felt that it was inappropriate. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren was very displeased. Dethmers had spoken his mind and said what he felt needed to be said. (Michigan Supreme Court. Michigan Reports: Cases Decided by the Supreme Court of Michigan. Rochester, N.Y.: Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Co., 1949 - 1998, Vol. 408.)
--  From the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society website
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Members of Class of 1927
Abbott, Asa George
Adams, Clark Jayno
Ailes, Edgar Holt
Annis, Richard Carleton
Anspach, Robert Dee
Avery, Lyman B.
Bean, George Wilmot
Becker, Roi Owen
Belt, William A.
Berge, Wendell
Blume, William Wirt
Bolano, Amando Bermejo
Bolt, Menso Ralph
Boyle, James B.
Brenner, Daniel Leon
Britz, Morris
Britz, Morris J.
Cadwell, Fred G.
Cavanaugh, Hugh Thomas
Chandler, John Perry
Conder, Robert W.
Conlin, John William
Cooper, Lloyd Everett
Cornell, Robert Franklin
Crogan, John Dewey
Culver, Fred Calvin
Custer, Everett E.
Dethmers, John R.
Dixon, Donald McIntosh
Doten, Roger Dolph
Drebin, Sydney R.
Duffy, James Eugene
Dunn, James Joseph
Eggenberger, William John
Eichorn, Fred Foltz
Eiges, Herbert Myer
Engle, J. T.
Erickson, Paul R.
Ferris, George F.
Finley, Gerald F.
Florer, Frances Mary
Foltz, Pearl Evalina
Foster, James C.
Fulton, Radcliffe Berwick
Gale, George Jackson
Germansky, Abraham
Giles, William Bliss
Gluckman, Nathan A.
Goldberg, Stuart Jacob
Goldman, Ben J.
Goodall, Ralph W.
Guest, Edwin
Haass, Erwin H.
Hall, Harry Lee
Halstead, Benjamin V.
Hammond, John Tedford
Hansen, Hjalmar S.
Harding, Arthur L.
Harding, Mary Leah
Harlocker, Fred Lentner
Harper, Fowler V.
Hartman, William B.
Haskins, Freeman W.
Heideman, Karl P.
Hirt, Paul Stanley
Holland, Francis J.
Horth, Charles M.
Howard, William Marcellus
Howbert, Edgar C.
Ives, Joseph T.
Jenks, Carleton H.
Johnson, Lester F.
Kabaker, Herman A.
Karbel, Sidney Joseph
Karl, Dorothy E.
King, Lawrence S.
King, William Wirt
Kinney, C. Bryan
Kleinert, Walter A.
Larwin, Richard W.
Lasca, Norman Paul
Lawrence, Joseph Don
Leenhouts, Willis Ralph
Levy, Jacob
MacDonald, William H.
Madigan, Edward P.
Mallory, Dudley
Manchester, Robert Asa
McGannon, Thomas L.
McMath, Louis Trent
Mikesell, J. P.
Murray, James F.
Neubeck, Beman Greenway
Newton, Alfred
Nichols, Paul Braxton
Nutter, Bartlett E.
Nylund, Ellen Lydia
O'Brien, Frank T.
O'Hanlon, Philip
Oliver, Alexander Gordon
O'Neill, James Eugene
Pagels, Hardy
Parsons, Joseph H.
Patterson, Donald Stanton
Perrine, Beahl T.
Poppen, Cyrus Marion
Prewitt, Ethan C.
Putnam, Leslie Charles
Ramsey, James R.
Reichert, Priscilla A.
Renkenberger, Francis Galen
Rinear, Robert Treat
Robbins, John Manley
Robin, Sidney Leon
Rody, John Walter
Rose, David Elliott
Ruetz, Earl Dewitt
Safir, Benjamin J.
Salzman, Elmer Henry
Schneider, John Jacob Harold
Schnitz, Soll Jaina
Schumann, Frederick J.
Seagle, Harold
Seifert, Edwin Joseph
Shawaker, Wayne Edward
Sibley, Burton Babcock
Sklar, John
Slattery, James Hobart
Spencer, Arthur E.
Stalker, George H.
Stern, Albert M.
Stimson, Edward S.
Stump, Lowell S.
Tipton, Milo
Troy, Harold Preston
Varnum, Laurent K.
Wahrenbrock, Howard Egger
Weadock, James Joseph
Weis, Leroy Richard
Weiswasser, Aaron
Weston, Edward Anthony
Whitchurch, Carl Louis
Whitsett, Ellen L. N.
Williams, Wilfred Hugh
Wilson, Rolland Owen
Witherspoon, John H.
Wolfe, James Daniel
Wolfe, Louis N.
Wood, Arthur R.
Young, Frank Landon
Zeisse, Priscilla R.
Zivich, Alexander Louis
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